The celebratory finger is on display again; it must be another Vettel win... 

The records keep tumbling, and in a fortnight’s time we will see Sebastian Vettel become the sport’s youngest-ever double World Champion. The German has all but wrapped up the 2011 championship with another flawless performance to take victory on the streets of Singapore.

With Jenson Button driving a hard-charging race to finish second ahead of Vettel’s team-mate Webber, Vettel now needs to score just a single championship point to successfully defend his crown.

The Red Bull driver led the field away from pole position, initially pulling away from the rest of the field at over a second per lap. A mid-race safety car interruption bunched the field and created some excitement for fans, and the German still had everything under control, even when Button mounted a late charge to whittle down his lead in the final laps.

Vettel took an early lead and was never seriously threatened Button’s second place finish – his fourth podium result on the trot – owed as much to his excellent start as his fabled ability to nurse his Pirelli tyres during the race. The Briton held the position for much of the race bar his visits to the pits for fresh tyres, but he ultimately didn’t have the pace to pose a serious threat to Vettel’s almost assured run to victory.

By finishing ahead of his other championship rivals, Button remains the only driver mathematically in contention for the championship, although he’ll still need to win all of the remaining five races and have Vettel finish outside the top-ten in all of them as well. A tall order indeed, but the 2009 World Champion again outperformed team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who had another trying day at the office.

Starting from fourth place after losing some crucial running during qualifying, Hamilton made a great start to challenge Webber down the inside into Turn 1. But Webber successfully squeezed Hamilton onto the dusty inside line, and Hamilton was forced to brake early, dropping as low as eighth.

His run to fifth place was typically eventful and entertaining. Trying to recover from his poor opening lap, Hamilton quickly caught and passed both Mercedes GP drivers when the DRS was enabled, making light work of the silver cars to move up to sixth place.

Hamilton tagged Felipe Massa. Cue more bad blood between the pair... Challenging Massa for fifth after the first round of pit stops, Hamilton had a good run on the Brazilian in the DRS zone and tried to out-brake the Ferrari driver at the outside of Turn 7. Attempting to cut back and try a ‘switchback’ move, he clipped the back of Massa’s car, cutting Massa’s tyre and damaging his own front wing in the process.

It was a clumsy move by Hamilton that was sadly so typical of his 2011 season, and it was little surprise to see him hauled in for a drive-through penalty after scuppering Massa’s race.

That he was able to fight his way back from 15th to finish fifth was impressive. Certainly, the mid-race safety car helped his cause by compressing the field, but he was easily the best exponent of using the DRS at the circuit, making plenty of passes as he worked his way up the order.

But the war of words wasn’t over between Hamilton and Massa, with the Brazilian allegedly getting into an altercation with the McLaren driver after the race. The pair have had something of a chequered history since their run-in at Monaco, and they also had a near-collision during yesterday’s qualifying session as well. While Hamilton certainly served the punishment before staging his impressive climb through the order, Massa’s run to an eventual ninth place was rather insipid, leading his post-race dummy spit to look more like a severe case of sour grapes.

While Button cruised serenely to second place, Webber finished third, having managed another slow getaway from the front row – admittedly, his cause was not helped by starting from the dusty side of the grid off the racing line.

Webber made a neat pass on Alonso at Turn 10 It was a typically fighting drive from Webber, who twice passed Alonso on the road. He had to repass the Spaniard again after their first pit stops when the Ferrari driver managed to reclaim third place. Both passing moves were particularly skilful and opportunistic – particularly the second pass into Turn 10 – while Alonso was again left to lick his wounds after ending up the loser in wheel-to-wheel combat.

Behind the top-five, Paul di Resta claimed sixth place and the best finish of his short Formula 1 career. The only runner starting in the top-ten run on the harder Pirelli rubber in his opening stint, his first pit stop came much later than his nearest rivals, while his second trip to the pits came just as the Safety Car was brought out, allowing him to leapfrog Nico Rosberg and Adrian Sutil.

The excellent result for Force India saw them comfortably move into sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship battle with Sauber and Toro Rosso, in what was the team’s most competitive showing this season.

Sergio Pérez claimed the final point in tenth place, surviving a read-end mauling from Michael Schumacher, which launched the seven-time World Champion into a frightening bit of ‘air time’ as he attempted to overtake the Mexican. Schumacher caught the back of Pérez’ Sauber, and sailed into the barriers at high speed, fortunately without injury, although the Safety Car was brought out to clean up the mess.

Schumacher collides with Perez... ...launching the German skywards... ...before he slams into the barriers

 

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2011 Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix – Final Classification (61 laps):

Driver Team Laps Result
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing – Renault RB7 61 1:59:06.757
2. Jenson Button GBR Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 61 + 1.737
3. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing – Renault RB7 61 + 29.279
4. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro F150° Italia 61 + 55.449
5. Lewis Hamilton GBR Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 61 + 1:07.766
6. Paul di Resta GBR Force India F1 Team – Mercedes VJM04 61 + 1:51.067
7. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team W02 60 1 lap behind
8. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India F1 Team – Mercedes VJM04 60 1 lap behind
9. Felipe Massa BRZ Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro F150° Italia 60 1 lap behind
10. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber F1 Team – Ferrari C30 60 1 lap behind
11. Pastor Maldonado VEN AT&T Williams – Cosworth FW33 60 1 lap behind
12. Sébastien Buemi SUI Scuderia Toro Rosso – Ferrari STR6 60 1 lap behind
13. Rubens Barrichello BRZ AT&T Williams – Cosworth FW33 60 1 lap behind
14. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber F1 Team – Ferrari C30 59 2 laps behind
15. Bruno Senna BRZ Lotus Renault GP R31 59 2 laps behind
16. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Team Lotus – Renault T128 59 2 laps behind
17. Vitaly Petrov RUS Lotus Renault GP R31 59 2 laps behind
18. Jérôme d’Ambrosio BEL Marussia Virgin Racing – Cosworth 59 2 laps behind
19. Daniel Ricciardo AUS HRT F1 Team – Cosworth F111 57 4 laps behind
20. Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA HRT F1 Team – Cosworth F111 57 4 laps behind
21. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Scuderia Toro Rosso – Ferrari STR6 56 Accident
           
  NOT CLASSIFIED        
DNF. Jarno Trulli ITA Team Lotus – Renault T128 47 Gearbox
DNF. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team W02 28 Collision
DNF. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Virgin Racing – Cosworth 9 Accident
           
  FASTEST LAP        
  Jenson Button GBR Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 54 1:48.454

Click here to view the current Drivers’ and Constructors’ championship standings.

[Images via Formula1.com, LAT and Sutton Images]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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